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Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract. 2010 Dec;26(3):579-601. doi: 10.1016/j.cveq.2010.07.006.

The role of manual therapies in equine pain management.

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  • 1Gail Holmes Equine Orthopaedic Research Center, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, 300 West Drake Road, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.


Manual therapy includes a diverse array of techniques, such as touch therapies, massage, physical therapy, osteopathy, and chiropractic, that were originally developed for use in humans and have been gradually applied to horses. All forms of manual therapy have variable reported levels of effectiveness for treating musculoskeletal issues in humans, but mostly only anecdotal evidence exists in horses. This article explores the scientific literature for evidence of efficacy, safety, and common mechanisms of action of the different forms of manual therapies for potential use in managing acute or chronic pain syndromes in horses. Currently, there is limited evidence supporting the effectiveness of spinal mobilization and manipulation in reducing pain and muscle hypertonicity. Further research is needed to assess the efficacy of specific manual therapy techniques and their contribution to multimodal protocols for managing specific somatic pain conditions in horses.

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